Fidelity Charitable donors doubled down with a record $9.1 billion granted to 170,000 charities in 2020—24 percent more dollars than 2019

Donors gave more to aid pandemic relief while they sustained support for the nonprofit sector

12x increase in grants to free food programs; overall grant volumes up 31 percent

BOSTON, February 17, 2021 – Many suffered from the tragic events of 2020. Fortunately, Fidelity Charitable donors showed unprecedented generosity in response. As outlined in the 2021 Giving Report, Fidelity Charitable, an independent public charity and the nation’s largest grantmaker, set records in 2020 for number of donor-recommended grants, charities supported and grant dollars distributed. Donors recommended 2 million grants that totaled $9.1 billion to 170,000 charities, 31 percent more grants overall and a 24 percent increase in dollars over 2019. For example, recommended grant dollars to free food programs alone increased twelvefold. In addition, the more than 250,000 donors that have a Fidelity Charitable Giving Account sustained nonprofits they had supported previously, with simultaneously increased support of communities in need.

In 2020, impact from Fidelity Charitable donor-advised funds exceeded $9.1 billion.

Fidelity Charitable, which marks its 30th anniversary this year, has facilitated $51 billion in donor-recommended grants to 328,000 charities since its inception. Half of those dollars were granted in the past five years.

“The tremendous acceleration in giving last year showed the power of donor-advised funds to offer relief when it’s needed most and help sustain the nonprofit sector in the face of unprecedented adversity,” said Pamela Norley, president of Fidelity Charitable. “Notably, three-in-four grants were made to organizations donors had previously supported.”

Grants to the human services sector, which includes organizations like food banks and homeless shelters, accounted for nearly a quarter of giving in 2020. In fact, grants to free food programs increased twelvefold, and three charities that provide food assistance, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels and World Central Kitchen, were among the 20 most popular charities supported by Fidelity Charitable donors for the first time last year.

Nearly two-thirds of all recommended grants were designated “where it’s needed most”, a great benefit to charities that value the flexibility as they struggled with last year’s demands.

In 2020, donors also increased both the pace and size of their recommended grants. The average Giving Account recommended 12.8 grants, compared to 10.8 in 2019. The average grant was $4,614—an increase of about $250 from the previous year.

Donors increased the pace and size of their grant recommendations in response to the events of 2020. Donors recommended an average of 12.8 grants per Giving Account, and the average grant size was $4,614.

Fidelity Charitable aided donors seeking guidance on how best to respond to pandemic needs with a variety of resources made freely available to the public. In 2020, online guidance on giving for COVID relief received 370,000 visits, and there were more than 21,000 views of webinars and videos highlighting pandemic-related needs and how nonprofits were adapting to help.

Also of note:
More than two-thirds of Fidelity Charitable contributions in 2020 were non-cash assets, including publicly traded securities (stocks, bonds and mutual funds) and non-publicly traded assets (private stock, restricted stock and limited partnership interests). This way, donors can take advantage of strong market gains, minimize capital gains taxes and give more to charity. For instance, donors contributed $28 million in cryptocurrency to their charitable accounts in 2020, compared to $13 million in 2019.

Donor contributions of cryptocurrency more than doubled from 2019 to $28 million in 2020.

Impact investing continues to grow in both investments and philanthropy, as donors continue to align their investment recommendations with their values. Donor-recommended allocations of charitable assets to investment funds with sustainable ratings now total $1.8 billion, nearly doubling in two years. In addition, donors recommended more than five times as many grant dollars to impact investing nonprofits—nearly $100 million—compared to five years earlier.

Since inception, Fidelity Charitable investment growth has created an additional $15 billion for charitable causes.

What is a donor-advised fund?

A donor-advised fund is a charitable account sponsored by a public charity that donors use to support their charitable giving. A donor-advised fund, called a Giving Account at Fidelity Charitable, makes it easier for donors to plan their giving and be more strategic, maximizing their generosity. Donors can contribute many types of assets, advise how those assets are invested for growth and provide even more support to charities over time.

Establishing and using a donor-advised fund:

Donors make a tax-deductible donation,
A donor can give cash, stocks, real estate or non-publicly traded assets to Fidelity Charitable or another public charity that sponsors a donor-advised fund program. The charity establishes a donor-advised fund in the donor’s name, and the donor can make additional contributions at any time.

... grow the donation tax-free
While donors decide which charities to support, their donations can potentially grow based on how they recommend them to be invested. At Fidelity Charitable, donors can recommend an investment strategy that aligns with their goals and time horizons for giving through investment pools or investment advisor-managed accounts.

… and support charities.
Donors can support any IRS-qualified public charities with the money in their donor-advised funds. Before making a grant, Fidelity Charitable conducts due diligence on recommendations to ensure the funds will be used for charitable purposes.

For more information, view the full report here.

About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 328,000 nonprofit organizations with $51 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. The mission of the organization is to grow the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving accessible, simple and effective. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit

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